Maternal effort mediates the prevalence of trypanosomes in the offspring of a passerine bird.

  • Merino S
  • Potti J
  • Moreno J
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The relationships between parental effort, offspring growth, and offspring blood parasitemias are poorly known. We examined the effect of parental effort on offspring size and prevalence of trypanosomes in peripheral blood of nestling Pied Flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca aged 13 days. Trypanosome infections were likely to be shared by siblings, indicating the role of a common environment and/or shared genes in the susceptibility to infection. Broods infected by trypanosomes had reduced growth, but this was due to decreased parental, especially maternal, energy expenditure in broods with nestlings infected by trypanosomes. There was no association between parental infection with trypanosomes and both their energy expenditure and the infection of their broods. Under stressful conditions caused by low maternal energy expenditure, the immune response of nestlings during growth was probably impaired, in a way analogous to the relapses of blood parasitemias with reproductive effort in breeding animals.

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  • S Merino

  • J Potti

  • J Moreno

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